SACRAMENTO -- The Stockton St. Mary’s girls' basketball team was full of surprises in the CIF State Division II championship game against Rialto at Power Balance Pavillion on Friday night.
Sophomore Courtney Range scored a career-high 17 points in leading St. Mary’s to a 64-48 win over Rialto. It was the seventh state championship and the fourth in a row for St. Mary’s. Range said it was the first time in her high school career that she led her team in scoring.
The win over Rialto capped an unexpected run to a state title for St. Mary’s.
Coach Tom Gonsalves said his team’s championship run was unexpected for a couple of reasons. One, his team graduated a number of key players from its three-time state championship team. Two, his team was moved up from Division III, where it won the last two state championships, to Division II.
“No one expected anything and the road was a rough one getting here,” Gonsalves said. “It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.”
St. Mary’s started slowly and Rialto took advantage. The Knights took an early 8-4 lead in the first quarter and held it until the last eight seconds of the quarter. Range scored on a layup to give St. Mary’s an 11-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“I think we had a great opportunity,” Rialto coach Michael Anderson said. “Miscues hurt us a lot.”
Rialto came right back at the start of the second quarter to take back the lead. The Knights tied the score with about a minute left to play in the first half. But St. Mary’s hit a 3-pointer and Kendall Kenyon put back a missed shot to give the Rams a five-point lead, 32-27, at halftime.
“They’re clutch shooters,” Gonsalves said. “They’re not great shooters. They step up when we need it.”
St. Mary’s used a 19-9 run in the third quarter to build a 15-point lead. At the end of three quarters, St. Mary’s led 53-40.
Range led four players from St. Mary’s in double figures in scoring. Onome Jemerigbe and Ali Gibson each scored 12 points. Kenyon finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Brittani Walker scored a team-high 17 points for Rialto and was 8-for-10 from the field. Denae Williams scored 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting. Cal State Northridge-bound senior Janae Sharpe scored eight points.